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Democrats Lose “Bi-Partisan” Support for Health Care Reform

On November 7, 2009, Congressman Joseph Cao (R, LA-02) became the lone Republican to vote for the House passed health care legislation. Democrats touted the singular support for the bill as a victory for bi-partisanship.

Members of the Catholic Advocate community might not be familiar with the freshman Member of Congress from Louisiana.  Cao is the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress who came to America in 1975 at the age of 8 as part of the U.S. military evacuation of Saigon. A Jesuit, Cao is open about the role his Catholic faith plays in his life.

Louisiana’s second congressional district is one of the most Democrat districts in the entire country. Political pundits would say a Republican winning the seat likely has the same odds as you or I winning the weekly Power Ball drawing. Cao succeeded by beating embattled and indicted nine-term Congressman William Jefferson.

Recently on CNN, and then again yesterday, Congressman Cao has publicly stated his opposition to the Senate version of the legislation because it retains federal funding for abortion. His remarks are below:

(House of Representatives – March 16, 2010) [Page: H1471]

(Mr. CAO asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

“Mr. CAO. Madam Speaker, the basic tenets of a democracy are those that protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Accessible, affordable health care that protects life is one of those tenets. This is why I applaud President Obama for his strength and determination in pushing for health care reform in the face of great adversity.

I support H.R. 3962, the Health Care Reform Bill, that passed the U.S. House on November 7, 2009, because it tries to provide affordable health care while protecting life. And I stand ready to support health care reform again so long as the reconciliation bill seeks the same goals.

“As of now, the Senate health care bill falls short and even contradicts the most basic principle of civilization: Thou shalt not kill. The Senate bill willfully excludes the language of the Hyde Amendment and seeks to expand funding and the role of the Federal Government in the despicable killing of the unborn. It also fails to incorporate provisions to protect the conscience of medical providers regarding abortion, as found in the Hyde-Weldon Amendment. These flaws are so devastating in their effects that they override any good the Senate health care bill seeks to promote.

“Until this House fixes the abortion language and incorporates a conscience protection clause, I stand firmly in opposition.”

Congressman Cao is taking a path worthy of being held as a profile in courage. He has been a top target for Democrats even before he was sworn into Congress. Congressman Cao deserves praise and support for his stance on the health care bill.

By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President

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